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Drought Parches 4 Mln People in Sichuan
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A prolonged drought has left nearly four million people and 4.46 million livestock short of drinking water in China's southwestern province of Sichuan.



Eighty counties or cities have had 20 to 40 days of drought, according to the Sichuan provincial meteorological bureau.


Consistent high temperatures and limited, scattered rainfall this spring were causing alarm and worry that the drought could last throughout the summer. About 110,000 people are depending on water being trucked to their locations, said the provincial water resources department.


Xiang Qianming, a 54-year-old farmer in Hequn Village of Zizhong County, has been fetching drinking water from a well about one kilometer away from his village for a month.


"The water was pumped from a pond and stored in the well after being filtered," said Xiang, whose 3,300 square meters of farmland has been rendered practically useless because of the drought.


"The drought that hit the area last year is believed to be the worst one in a hundred years. It is even rarer to see it being followed by this year's spring drought," said Zhu Bin, vice head of the provincial water resources department.


In Huoma village, up in the mountains, more than 150 residents of 40 households have to rely on water brought by two fire engines every two days.


While there was some rain in the province in May, it fell in only a few areas, the bureau said.


Large tracts of farmland were not seeded this spring for lack of moisture and some crops have shriveled. The bureau has dispatched more than 20 work teams to carry out drought-relief work in farm areas.


Drought in most parts of northern and western China since early March has affected 14.93 million hectares of arable land and 7.52 million livestock.


The Ministry of Agriculture earlier warned the drought could affect summer crop output.





(Xinhua News Agency June 6, 2007)

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